Moving from the Great Lakes to the jazz bars of Detroit and Chicago, Of Song and Water is a tale of singlehanded sailors and jazz musicians, of working-class dreams blighted by family duty, personal betrayals, and the untold violence between fathers and sons. The novel follows the life of Coleman Moore, a jazz guitarist of early fame who finds himself adrift and in the company of ghosts: his mentor, a black jazz legend trying to live peacefully on the edge of a white town; his grandfather, a Prohibition rumrunner turned ruthless entrepreneur; and his first love, a clear-headed woman who refuses to live in the dark tunnels of the past. As he abandons music and turns his mind to a damaged sailboat, Coleman begins a hazardous course, risking the love of his daughter and the trust of Brian James, his longtime collaborator and friend. Driven by mid-life doubts, Coleman revisits his early ambitions and desires, returning through a maze of time and memory to the central crisis of his life, a moment of tremendous cruelty that calls into question much of what he hopes for and believes. In language that evokes the riffs and rhythms of jazz and the sound and movement of the Great Lakes, Joseph Coulson’s second novel is a profound Orphic journey, a story of hidden truths, unfulfilled dreams, and possible redemption.
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Published July 1, 2010
Horror, Literature & Fiction.